The SPA has been enacted in Maltese law through the transposition of Directive 2011/98 of the 13th of December 2011 which requires Member States of the European Union (EU) to implement administrative procedures to enable non-EU nationals to obtain both work and residency permits through a single application. Additionally, beneficiaries of the SPA are also able to travel freely to all Member States of the EU.

Prior to the introduction of the SPA, third country nationals (TCN) wishing to work in Malta were required to submit an application for an employment licence (work permit) with the Employment and Training Corporation. If the request has been acceded to, the applicants would then be required to apply for a residence permit at the Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs in order that the said authorisation would be reflected on the said permit. In accordance with the provisions of these Regulations, the Director of Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs is legally responsible for the processing of applications for work/residence permits. Accordingly, there is no requirement for applicants to submit, as was previously the case, a separate application for an employment licence.

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